High Enrollment, But Gaps In Graduation

Two years ago we learned that black women are leading all other groups in college enrollment. According to the article on Clutch:

According to the data, 9.7 percent of Black women are enrolled in college. Asian women are second, with 8.7 percent working toward degrees, followed by Asian men at 8.4 percent, White women at 7.1 percent, Black men at 7.0 percent, Hispanic women at 6.6 percent, White men at 6.1 percent, and Hispanic men at 5.9 percent.

While black women are leading in college enrollments, we want to know if this is carrying through to college degrees! Women of color will go on to different types of colleges: HBCU’s, PWI’s, liberal arts, suburban, city, commuter, or skill oriented, to name a few. The culture, academics, social life, and location of the school will all affect the experience and learning opportunities provided. So, even if enrollments are high, there is a lot that can happen during the 2 to 4 years it takes to earn a degree. We aren’t saying that there is a right or wrong path for women of color to take in their college pursuits, but it is not a decision that should be made lightly.

And unfortunately, the statistics change when we talk about college graduation. So, something is happening between enrolling in college and attaining a degree.

According to a 2015 article on US News:

Among many other things, the report found different patterns of graduation improvement for different groups of students. Improvements were greatest for Latino students – whose graduation rates increased by 7.4 percentage points from 2003 to 2013 – and for Native American students, who saw an increase of 6.4 percentage points. Gains among African-American students were lower, increasing by 4.4 percentage points across the decade.

According to the Hechinger Report, these are the states with the highest gaps in college degrees between black and white students:

States with widest gaps in college degrees (black/white)

State Black White
West Virginia 24% 48% 24 points
Wisconsin 22% 45% 23 points
North Carolina 28% 50% 22 points
Connecticut 29% 50% 21 points
Massachusetts 32% 53% 21 points
Minnesota 27% 47% 20 points
Colorado 34% 53% 19 points
Ohio 24% 42% 18 points
Nevada 24% 42% 18 points
California 33% 51% 18 points

There are gaps among students which need to be addressed. The article on US News and the one from the Hechinger Report provide different suggestions. One states that underrepresented students (students of color) require better supports on their college campuses to succeed. And we don’t disagree with that! While many colleges will stress their diversity numbers, they might not have campus resources. The Hechinger Report states that rising tuition costs at debt among students is affecting college graduation rates and widening the gap. Both definitely play a part in graduating with a college degree.

What are your thoughts?

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